Archive for Thursday, October 4, 2001

Turnout key to bond passage

October 4, 2001

When voters hit the polls for the Nov. 6 bond election, they will determine whether Eudora builds a new high school.

But before USD 491 patrons cast their votes, the school district had to decide when and how to have the election.

The district picked Nov. 6 because it was the first Tuesday of the month, usually reserved for elections. Since the vote will take place in an odd year, no public offices are up for reelection, and Superintendent Marty Kobza thinks that's a good thing.

"It's not just another question on the ballot," he said. "Whether voters go to vote yes or to vote no, they will be informed.

The district also chose to have the election at polling sites rather than by mail-in ballot.

"Since this is a single-issue ballot, (the board) felt confident people would be going to the polls informed," Kobza said.

Although mail-in ballots are unusual for bond elections overall, Kobza said, many of Eudora's neighbors have them.

"That's because they have a lot of confidence that the bond issue will be successful in those areas," he said. "It became a matter of convenience."

Douglas County Clerk Patty Jaimes said how an election is held makes a difference in turnout.

"When mail-in ballot elections first came out and they used them for bond elections, the turnout was relatively high," she said. "More recently, the turnout hasn't been as high.

The people who vote at the polls probably feel strongly one way or the other, she said.

Whether the election is specifically for the bond or if it's for public offices as well makes a difference, too.

"This is going to be a special election," Jaimes said. "Usually the turnout is smaller."

In the 1992 election, which passed the bond for the current high school, the north Eudora precinct had 83 percent of voters turn out, the south precinct had 87 percent and central Eudora had 83 percent. At the time, Jaimes said, parts of Leavenworth County weren't included in USD 491, but this year's election will include voters from Douglas, Leavenworth and Johnson counties.

In comparison, the 2000 general election, when there was no bond issue, drew 75 percent of voters from north Eudora, 76 percent from the south precinct and 73 percent from the central precinct.

Even though the vote will be at polling sites, Jaimes said voters can cast their ballot by mail. Advance voting begins Oct. 17, and can be mailed up until the Friday before the election.

"I would not guarantee putting it in the mail the Friday before the election," Jaimes said.

Registration to vote closes 14 days prior to the election, or Oct. 23.

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